Archives For play


Part of maintaining a thriving creative culture is giving people time and permission to play. One of the ways we encourage creative play at IDEO is through Designs On—, a semi-annual internal design challenge started five years ago by my colleague Blaise Bertrand. Each edition of Designs On— centers on a theme ranging from Global Warming to Birth.

Packaging is the central theme of the newly launched fifth edition of Designs On—. In it are 18 unexpected packaging ideas, like a medicine bottle that signals expiration like a rotting banana, and using synthetic biology to sustainably manufacture cups, among many other thought-provoking ideas. Serious, scientific, playful, and emotional, the concepts form a collective portfolio that showcases the creativity of our designers, and acts as inspiration for our current—and future—client work.

We think it’s creative playtime well spent.

What about you? What would you design if time, money, or feasibility weren’t concerns?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

This week TED published a playlist called 10 Talks About the Beauty—and Difficulty—of Being Creative. Included in the playlist: David Kelley’s 2012 TED talk, “How To Build Your Creative Confidence,” and my own 2008 talk, “Tales of Creativity and Play.

There’s a powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. To learn about many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t), watch “Tales of Creativity and Play.

Then watch David’s talk—and don’t miss the rest of the TED creativity playlist.

What inspires you to be creative today?

(posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Optimism and critique

August 24, 2008 — 15 Comments

When I was at art school the critique was central to the ethos. Every couple of weeks I would have to pin my work up on the wall and defend it from the criticism of fellow students and professors. It was always stressful but as long as I hadn’t made the mistake of staying up all the previous night trying to get the work finished I normally performed OK. The critique is a great way to give someone feedback that they can use to improve the work. People who were good at giving criticism did not let personal feelings get in the way of being honest and inevitably the sessions could become quite tough. It was not unknown for students to fall out with each other over a crit.

Today we are more interested in collaborative teams than we are in the individual. Design challenges are too complex for an individual to tackle alone. We have found out that for teams to work well together there needs to be an essentially optimistic environment. Back in May I talked at the Art Center College conference Serious Play about how designers use aspects of play in their work and one idea that I focused on was permission to take risks. I suggested that the reason many creative companies have playful environments is to encourage risk taking and to help create a culture of optimism.

The dilemma we face today is that in a culture of optimism good honest criticism seems to be dying out. Is it because we are nervous about upsetting each other?

Whatever the reason, I believe we need to find effective methods for criticism within todays optimistic, collaborative design culture. Does anyone have any examples of how this is already being done?